Through Ramatoulaye’s reflections, Bâ highlights the institution of marriage as a structural symbol of the patriarchal system, in which asymmetrical gender relations are maintained and projected as part of the Islamic doctrine.
“When we choose to love we choose to move against fear-against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect-to find ourselves in the other.”
“Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers. The question is what to do with the feelings that have been aroused, the knowledge that has been communicated. If one feels that there is nothing “we” can do—but who is that “we”?—and nothing “they” can do either—and who are “they”?—then one starts to get bored, cynical, apathetic.”
Alifa Rifaat’s stories are situated within an Islamic framework that allows her to create a feminism of her own. Since Islam and empowerment are often misguidedly placed in contradiction to one another, it’s easy to see why Rifaat is not a household name.
Migrant writer Aglaja Veteranyi once wrote that “[her] father says you remember the smell of your country no matter where you are but only recognize it when you’re far away.”